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02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

UFS lecturer serves on National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board
2015-02-13

Dr Karin Ehlers

Dr Karin Ehlers, lecturer in the Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State, was elected by the Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, to serve on the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board which will, among others, monitor the implementation of the provisions of the DNA Act.

Previously, when DNA evidence was collected at a crime scene, it was analysed only when requested by the prosecutor or investigator when they had found a suspect and needed confirmation. With the new DNA Act, all samples collected from violent crimes must be analysed. The profiles will be compared with a convicted offender database to see if some of the unsolved cases can be linked to these perpetrators. The reason for this is that many of these offenders are repeat offenders, and this process will increase the chances of solving cases successfully.

Serving on the Board, Dr Ehlers will also have the opportunity to contribute to proposals on:
- the improvement of practices regarding the overall operations of the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD),
- the ethical, legal, and social implications of the use of forensic DNA profiles, and
- the training and the development of criteria for the use of familial searches.

Board members will also receive and assess complaints about alleged violations relating to the abuse of DNA samples and forensic DNA profiles and/or security breaches, and will report to complainants in respect thereof.

In 2014, when all citizens in South Africa were invited to apply for a position on the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board, Dr Ehlers submitted her application with a motivation on how she could contribute to the function of the Board. She is one of ten persons who were appointed to serve on the Board. “The reason I was successful was due to my involvement in the development of the UFS Forensic Sciences Programme,” Dr Ehlers said.

The capacity of the country was one of the challenges that had to be overcome for this Act to take effect. ”The UFS was able to address this problem, implementing degrees in Forensic Genetics and Forensic Sciences. With these programmes we made a real difference in the fight against crime. It is a real privilege to form part of this project,” said Dr Ehlers.

Dr Karin Ehlers serves on National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (read the full story)

 

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za

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